Keith Arnold

Kurt Hinish
Photo via Twitter

Recruiting run continues with commitment from DT Kurt Hinish

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Defensive tackle Kurt Hinish is the latest 2017 recruit to commit to Notre Dame. The 6-foot-3, 285-pounder announced Monday evening that he’ll join high school teammate David Adams in South Bend, another commitment coming out of a huge Junior Day over the weekend.

Hinish announced the decision live on the Pittsburgh CBS affiliate and also took to Twitter to make things official.

“I would like to thank all of the coaches and staff of the schools that recruited me in this process, Hinish wrote. “Also I would like to thank my family, friends, God and teammates through this process. In addition I would like to thank all of the coaches who helped me become the player I am today. Everyday and minute of the process was a dream come true. My heart is truly sold on this place and what it has to offer, on and off the field. Me and my family sat down talk about this and what would be best for me. With that, I would like to announce my commitment to THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME.”

Hinish had offers from local programs Penn State and Pitt and was a priority target for both. He lined up with Adams in the starting lineup for Pennsylvania’s top prep program in 2015, and fielded offers from Ole Miss, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and many others.

A three-star prospect, Hinish has seen his profile rise lately, earning offers throughout the spring from different top programs. Looking like a lean to Penn State until the Irish offer came through in February, it didn’t take long for Keith Gilmore and the Irish staff to close the deal.

Hinish has earned the “high motor” tag, his highlight reel filled with plays where the Pittsburgh native dominated the point of attack with either power or quickness. After passing on interior defensive linemen last recruiting cycle, Hinish is a great land early in the cycle, a guy who might not be Sheldon Day, but certainly has the look and feel of a Derek Landri-type player, capable of winning at the point of attack with great technique and even better effort.

A busy weekend has taken the 2017 class from four prospects to seven, with recruiting coordinator Mike Elston tweeting that there might be more action to come.

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Commits continue with blue-chip LB David Adams

David Adams
via Twitter
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Notre Dame’s defense is getting a building block for the future. Pittsburgh native David Adams headed home from Junior Day in South Bend and decided that he’d seen enough to end his recruitment.

Adams took to Twitter to make the decision official, choosing Notre Dame over some impressive offers like Florida, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss, Pitt, Penn State and Stanford. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder is one of the top inside linebackers in the country.

“First off I would like to thank God for all the amazing opportunities he’s blessed me with. I would like to thank my family for supporting me through thick and thin. I would like to thank my coaches and teammates for making me the player I am today. I would like to thank all of my friends for the endless support. And also I would like to thank every single coach that has recruited me. I’ve made so many great relationships and couldn’t thank every coach enough. But, after a lot of consideration, I would like to announce my commitment to the University of Notre Dame.”

Heading into the visit, Adams seemed like a priority target and also someone with significant interest in the Irish. But with a slew of coaches chasing (as detailed in a recent Tweet), most expected the big news from Central Catholic on Monday, when teammate Kurt Hinnish is expected to join him.

One look at Adams’ highlight reel from his junior season gives you an idea about the productivity he’ll bring to South Bend. A backer with speed, explosiveness and plenty of instincts, he was a first-team All-State player on the state champion in Pennsylvania.

That makes six commits for Notre Dame after a very productive weekend.

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Junior Day nets commitment from Texas QB Avery Davis

Avery Davis
Rivals / Yahoo! Sports
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Notre Dame’s coaching staff found their quarterback for the 2017 recruiting class. Texas dual-threat signal-caller Avery Davis committed to the Irish on Saturday, making the announcement via social media after arriving in South Bend.

“After endless prayer, talking to my family and my coaches I have decided to officially verbally commit to The University of Notre Dame!” Davis wrote. “I would like to thank all for the colleges who took a chance and recruited me to play for their school & I’d also like to thank all of the colleges who chose not to. All of the glory is to God because without him I am nothing! #goirish”

Undersized but highly athletic, Davis broke onto the seen as a sophomore on the 5A state champions in Texas, moonlighting as a runner and receiver before starting at quarterback last season. He threw for over 2,000 yards with 25 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. He also ran for 13 scores and nearly 900 yards.

It’s interesting to note Davis’ comments, particularly thanking the schools that didn’t offer him. That’s mostly the major Texas programs, with many of the in-state teams targeting a different quarterback in the 2017 recruiting cycle. Davis was candid about those slights when talking to 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong:

“That was a big thing that drove me,” Davis told 247Sports. “Seeing the other guys get those offers, I was saying to myself I can play too, I can do what they do, I can do it better if you ask me. It made me work harder and it’s working out now.”

Davis was hardly an afterthought for the Irish coaching staff and particularly Mike Sanford. Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach had long had Davis a priority, especially after Indiana native Hunter Johnson committed to Tennessee.

A high school sprinter, expect the running part of the game to come easily to Davis. His evolution as a passer continues, only one year into his starting career after playing behind LSU recruit Justin McMillan as a sophomore.

Davis is the fifth member of the 2017 recruiting class. He might be joined by another pledge as early as Monday, with another junior day visitor, defensive tackle Kurt Hinnish, set to announce after school tomorrow.

Zaire ready to go back to battle

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Malik Zaire #8 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes past defensive end Mike Moore #32 of the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish won, 34-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Notre Dame made all three quarterbacks available to the media on Friday. And as you may have expected, DeShone Kizer, Malik Zaire and Brandon Wimbush all said the right things as they begin their battle for the starting quarterback job.

But mixed among the platitudes and Nook Laloosh-level cliches (Seriously, watch Zaire almost crack a smile in his first attempt to avoid the question) was some good old fashioned honesty from Zaire.

And man, was it refreshing.

Zaire’s candor isn’t new. And coming off a year where he opened the season with a nearly perfect statistical game against Texas only to break his angle the next weekend, Zaire’s comments felt a lot like—well, years’ past, when the Ohio-native spoke honestly about his self-belief and attitude during quarterback battles with Everett Golson.

“You just really wonder what it’s gonna take to finally convince people enough that I’m able to do the job, but like I said, I don’t make the decisions, so I just gotta keep balling and do what I gotta do. And that’s being the best in the country every time I gotta be out there and proving that to myself.

“I know I’m a championship quarterback and that’s something we’re working on. Every day is another process for me and my growth and development, and I know I’ve got to be at the best of shape at all times to help this team win football games.”

Credit ESPN’s Matt Fortuna for finally prying the answer out of Zaire. But also credit the rising senior quarterback for telling it like it is. A big reason why I’m not willing to count out Zaire from this battle is the attitude he displayed answering the question.

No, he’s not a guy running from the battle. He’s a quarterback doing the opposite, taking it into his own hands to make it impossible for his coaches not to give him the job. That’s all a staff can ask for, especially in a program that built competition into its DNA.

Of course, mental fortitude is a nice perk, but if you don’t have the physical goods than it really doesn’t matter. Kizer’s breakthrough season has many thinking the sky’s the limit for the rising junior. But we could be saying the same thing for Zaire, who in only 75 career passes has thrown five touchdowns and zero interceptions, completing over 62-percent of his throws while running for more than 5.5 yards-per-carry, all while beating LSU and Texas.

There’s over five months until Notre Dame heads to Austin to open 2016 against the Longhorns. Expect Zaire to battle all the way until he boards the plane.

 

Notre Dame going nationwide with Junior Day

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While most eyes are turned to Brooklyn where the Irish basketball team takes on Michigan in round one of the NCAA tournament, it’s a major weekend on campus for the football program. Notre Dame is hosting a Junior Day that’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, expected to be one of the biggest turnouts in the Kelly era, with a guest list from coast-to-coast.

The program’s official Twitter account pointed out that prospects from 16 different states will be on campus to watch Saturday’s practice and take a closer look at campus.

Multiple reports have up to 30 prospects setting foot on campus, a gigantic number that’s essentially turning the middle of March into a flagship weekend. With over two-thirds of those prospects already holding Irish offers, and a few more likely to earn them this weekend, this could be a jumpstart to a recruiting class that already counts four commitments in the class of 2017.

If you’re looking at a headliner for the class, you might want to consider Texas quarterback Avery Davis. The second high-profile signal-caller to visit this week (Hendon Hooker of North Carolina was in South Bend on Sunday and Monday), Davis and blue-chip teammate Charleston Rambo are in town, with many thinking that Davis could be the centerpiece of a class that has the potential for a highly-touted group.

There’s also a slew of talented defenders set to arrive. Four-star linebacker Davis Adams of Pittsburgh returns, and commits to other major programs—cornerback and USC verbal Thomas Graham as well as Ohio State commit DT Haskell Garrett—are giving Notre Dame a look as well.

We’ll keep you updated on any news breaking over the weekend.